Black Bodies Matter: A Reading of Ta-Nahisis Coates's Between the World and Me

Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 38 (1):199-221 (2017)

Authors
Jill Gordon
Colby College
Abstract
Some scholars read the black body as constructed by white consciousness or perceptions; Coates indicates, to the contrary, that violence against the black body and threats to black embodiment ground and make possible particular ideations of race and (white) American self-concepts. Coates takes an implicitly anti-Hegelian, anti-DuBoisian stance against any spirit or history that might redeem or affirm the black body as the grounding of black experience. Like repeated speech-acts, bodily violence is “world creating.” Although material treatment of bodies and their conceptual signification are mutually reinforcing, Coates’s reversal of etiology signals a material foundation to concepts of race and to solutions to racial injustices. Only through the end of violence to the black body might white Americans change their ideation and achieve racial justice.
Keywords Coates  Violence  materialism  DuBois  anti-idealism
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